The seedling of my world view was nourished by a combination of visionary cynicism and abject poverty.
My first place away from home was a decrepit mobile home precariously nestled on the edge of a four feet deep drainage ditch that was home to group of anti-social raccoons and muskrats.
I subsisted on beans and rice, store brand coffee and hand rolled cigarettes. There are only so many ways to prepare red beans and rice. To this day I still can't look at a plate of beans and rice without a feel of revulsion. Don't even mention Ramen noodles or Rice-a-Roni.
Oh, and there was port. Cheap, sweet, dark, wonderful port. I drank it on ice and told myself it was grape juice. It never contradicted me. It kept me warm in the Winter and drunk in the Summer. At the time I thought we were friends.
For some reason, though I ate poorly myself, I felt I could afford to feed a cat. I named him Henry (after Henry Miller) and he was a pathetic mouser. He tried to make friends with them. We have domesticated our cats too much perhaps. Their natural instincts have been dulled toward anything that doesn't look like a toy.
They weren't anything I had ever encountered before. They were huge, larger than the aforementioned mice. They had wings. Large, functioning wings. My cat was even afraid of them. The field mice moved out almost the next day. Mice, as you may well know, are very non-confrontational.
This left me with a bit of a dilemma. I could spray for the roaches and hope for the best. But then the mice, seeing the coast was clear, might be emboldened to move back in. I sat on the couch smoking a cigarette, trying to decide what to do. A cockroach crawled onto my hand and tried to knock the cigarette from between my fingers. My choice was suddenly clear.
Weeks later I got a letter from my former landlord thanking me for burning the trailer down. Decrepit as it was, he had it insured to the teeth. He offered me a new place, another trailer, promising it didn't have cockroaches or mice. With a discount on the rent, I felt I couldn't refuse.
It was fortunate that Henry enjoyed hunting centipedes...